Monday, July 12, 2021

The penultimate weekend of the Indianapolis Early Music Festival features two different pairings of string instrument and harpsichord

Patrick Merrill (left) and Wade Davis performing at Indiana History Center.
The next-to-last weekend of the Indianapolis Early Music Festival was a scaled-down affair, bringing to live-streamed audiences (with the addition of two in-person concerts Sunday) a couple of Baroque duos.

Both instrumental programs paid tribute to the prominence of vocal music in the 17th and 18th centuries. Sunday's concert, with cellist Wade Davis and harpsichordist Patrick Merrill performing under the ensemble name of S'amusant, reached back further in that category. It opened with their arrangement of the hymn "O ignee Spiritus" by Hildegard of Bingen, a 12-century German visionary regarded as the foremother of all female composers in the Western art tradition.

The arrangement was tasteful and not excessively gussied up. The players, in adding to the monodic line of the original, stayed true to the mood of highly focused reverence for the Holy Spirit. In the main repertoire the Baltimore ensemble concerns itself with, the aria "Io veggio i campi verdeggiar fecondi" followed in confirmation of the duo's well-cultivated rapport, with particular luster in Davis' glowing lyricism. The lyricism seemed a little too precious to me in his solo, the Prelude from J.S. Bach's second cello suite. But the cellist's musical personality made the interpretation mostly convincing, and his tone was exquisite.

Friday's virtual concert, by violinist Ingrid Matthews and harpsichordist Byron Schenkman,

Ingrid Matthews displayed particular affinity for Handel.


was titled "Handel and the Italians in England," indicating the vogue for Italian opera and instrumental styles nurtured and sustained in the early decades of the 18th century by the imported and most welcome genius of George Frideric Handel (to use the English version of his name the composer adopted after moving to England in 1710).

Schenkman and Matthews paid tribute to the enormous success of Italian opera among English audiences (tolerating and for a while loving music sung in a language they couldn't understand), with the violinist taking the vocal part of "Amarti si vorrei," the heroine Agilea's lamenting aria in "Teseo" (1713). Lifting up such a crucial part of Handel's reputation in his adopted homeland in the middle of this performance created the opportunity for two Handel violin-keyboard sonatas to represent the transplanted German at either end of the recital, which also featured characteristic pieces by Geminiani, Scarlatti, and Elisabetta de Gaberini (also a singer of distinction in Handel oratorios).

As for the more recent recital, I found the S'amusant duo especially impressive in Giovanni Bononcini's Sonata for Cello and Continuo, whose two-movement breadth of expression and texture was most welcome in a recital that verged on the sparse side. Despite the seriousness of the two harpsichord solos Patrick Merrill offered, the brevity of the selections and of the concert itself gave a sampler kind of flavor to the occasion.

Admirable and generally well brought off was Davis' advocacy of Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges, the most eminent early composer of African descent to come to attention currently; the recently revived Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra was a concert advocate for him in May. An Allegro movement from his Sonata in G minor gave, despite a few flat high notes, a fitting flourish to S'amusant's local debut.


 

 




 


Friday, July 9, 2021

Cut off in mid-career, Roy Hargrove and Mulgrew Miller romp on common ground on 'In Harmony'

 Thanks to Zev Feldman and his collaborators, a new two-disc treat from Resonance Records enhances claims on jazz immortality that can be made on


behalf of Roy Hargrove and Mulgrew Miller.

The title "In Harmony" is an understatement, but a necessary one for the sake of brevity. I say that because what the trumpeter and pianist were captured playing on two concert dates in 2006 and 2007 illustrated more than harmony in its formal sense. It also revealed complete rapport between two musicians capable of inspiring each other and shedding new light on a host of popular and jazz standards.

Hargrove and Miller offered their gifts generously at the Kaufman Music Center in New York City in January 2008 and at Lafayette College (Easton, Pa.) in November 2007. Each man, after a wealth of contributions to the music within a brief span of active life, died in middle age — Miller in 2013, Hargrove in 2018. 

As his career blossomed, Hargrove deepened his ideas and used his instrumental fluency across a wide spectrum. Exciting in such early recordings as "Roy Hargrove Quintet with the Tenors of Our Time" (Verve, 1994), by the next-to-last decade of his life, the trumpeter had trimmed out some of his flamboyance. Here he is encouraged, perhaps tacitly, by the reflective style of Miller. The result was a thoroughly balanced style for Hargrove, and here the duo concert format puts it on full display.

He could continue to trot out the showboat side, while always keeping his golden tone, in such a standard as "Just in Time." Miller's unaccompanied intro sketches the song's easy delight in a new romance. Then Hargrove ramps that up into an outburst of exuberance.

"Invitation," an slightly exotic favorite of jazz players, has a great Hargrove solo, with his characteristic melodic and rhythmic variety. There is typically a melodic point to every phrase from the trumpeter's horn, as can readily be heard in "What Is This Thing Called Love?", the Cole Porter evergreen that opens the two-disc set.

The duo both personalize their solos, while they play together with thorough meshing of their individualism. Jazz pianists with considerable facility are often tempted to present their chops as substantial when they in fact are giving vent to space-filling decoration. Miller was a little bit like that, though his thorough knowledge of the jazz-piano tradition opened access to something that could usually put the ornamental stuff into an effective context. He finds those contexts repeatedly here.

Other than noting my slight reservations about this much-missed pianist's playing, I can readily conclude that there's nothing substandard about what this inspired duo pours out at length. It's great to have Miller and Hargrove so fraternally and posthumously brought forward on a new recording. Kudos to Resonance for another good reclamation project.


 

 

Friday, July 2, 2021

With two sets of trio partners, Gary Walters grabs the pandemic by the tail in 'The COVID Sessions'

 

Gary Walters takes care of business.

Long known for a variety of teaching and performing activity as a locally based jazz keyboard maestro, Gary Walters comes up with a new studio recording of trios made since COVID-19 upended so many lives. 

"The COVID Sessions" (available through the website linked above) reflects his taking advantage of the relative idleness enforced upon many active musicians as the concert scene dried up early last year. 

He brings back some original tunes and revives jazz pieces he likes, plus a couple of Great American Songbook standards. He divides the chosen repertoire between trios with Thomas Brinkley and Chris Pyle on five tracks, Peter Hansen and Gene Markiewicz on three. And there's one duo track each with bassists Hansen and Brinkley.

Walters has a mainstream sensibility, but exhibits plenty of ideas for putting his personal stamp on the music. The trio's introduction to "Monk's Dream," for instance, is captivating in its sandpapery dissonance before Thelonious Monk's tune gets under way. The eccentricity of the composer is there, but the trio also shows how rooted Monk was in straight-ahead swing; this is confirmed by the neat dialogue between cymbals and drums in Markiewicz's solo.

Melody has always been a strong aspect of Walters' playing, and when he and Brinkley apply their personalities to Bill Evans' "One for Helen," the charm is infectious. There is always variety in the pianist's stylistic approach: He comes up with a florid intro to Cole Porter's "I Love You," then fashions chipper, slightly laconic phrasing for the tune itself. Hansen lays down a soaring bass solo.

As for the set-closer, the tender evergreen "My Foolish Heart," it's worth mentioning that Hansen, a veteran member of Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra double-bass section, is one of the few jazz bassists I've heard who is thoroughly presentable when he picks up the bow, never wandering out of tune. Often, some great jazz players who pluck with authority tend to draw winces from the listener in their arco work.

Duke Ellington's "African Flower" ushers in a slightly exotic atmosphere, with greater pedal resonance from the piano and Pyle's soft-spoken drive relying on hands rather than sticks. (Pyle's distinctive art work adorns the disc's cover, too.) The other borrowed tune not yet mentioned is another Bill Evans gem, "G Waltz."

A cheerful etude-like feeling pervades "Schelle Intermezzo," which Walters describes as something he wrote on a break from fulfilling a composition assignment during studies in the century's first decade with Butler University composer-in-residence Michael Schelle. 

Further drollery, affectionate and never too clever for its own good, can be found in "Izzy Baby," a tribute to the Walters household's "first dog" and "an effort to capture her moods." Brinkley and Pyle fully buy into the portrait of a bounding canine companion. The performance is typical of the rapport Walters naturally achieves with his band mates — whether in the studio during COVID or (once again, it is expected) — out and about on the concert bandstand. "The COVID Sessions" sums up an era for Walters and can be looked at as a launching pad for the reopening of live performance.




Monday, June 28, 2021

Mini-recitals by five APA finalists precede announcement of top prize to Kenny Broberg

Perhaps falling in love with the Three Tenors as a toddler inclined Kenny Broberg toward fascination with immediate appeal through music. It may have planted the seed for the kind of direct communication that won him the Christel DeHaan Fellowship of the 2021 American Pianists Awards Sunday afternoon.

Kenny Broberg displayed direct insights on way to Fellowship.

The biographical tidbit was part of a series of video sketches and on-site remarks by co-hosts Sylvia McNair and Terrance McKnight about the five finalists in the American Pianists Association's concentrated classical competition. An unusually large audience (in immediately post-pandemic terms) at Indiana Landmarks Center waited in suspense for the jury's decision along with, thanks to live-streaming, a worldwide audience of indeterminate size.

Before the big announcement, itself preceded by speeches of thanks and congratulation, the finalists played brief solo recitals that should count as the Awards' performance finale, not the concerto round of the night before (as I said in my post about that event). My take on those performances is elaborated below, uninfluenced by Broberg's eventual victory.

Doré's depiction of Paolo and Francesca
I'll start with him, however. His account of Franz Liszt's "Dante" Sonata concluded the mini-recital series. I was impressed by his ready grasp of the music's drama, which derives from the effect of reading the ill-starred love story of Paolo and Francesca and their punishment in Hell as described in Dante's "Inferno," the most vivid part of the epic poem titled "The Divine Comedy." The episode has tugged at the heartstrings of several composers; Tchaikovsky's best tone poem is arguably "Francesca da Rimini."


Avoiding the temptation to overcolor the music, Broberg went right to the heart of the conflict and the illicit lovers' suffering. He conveyed a sense of the geography of Dante's hell, the jagged terrain reflecting the loneliness and torment of souls assigned to  its inhospitable circles. The work requires a unique structural sense, something to me evoked by the engravings of Gustave Doré in one of his most potent series of literary illustrations. This is music that needs its gradations of black and white outlined and its blended grasp of motion and emotion, as in Doré's evocative engravings.


Liszt's romantic extravagance and feeling for dynamic movement had opened the mini-recitals with Mackenzie Melemed's playing of "Funerailles," in which funeral ceremonies are caught up in martial splendor. The dramatic and lyrical sections were well-defined and compellingly contrasted.

Spotlighting other impressive interpretations: The vigorously articulated gusto of Dominic Cheli's performances of Brahms' Rhapsody in E-flat major from op. 119 and Scriabin's Fantasie in B minor, op. 28 highlighted the contrast between the composers' way of handling thick textures. Cheli's  solid balance of harmonies in the Brahms was exemplary; in the Scriabin, without blurring, he applied lots of pedal, which worked to maximize the way sporadic gatherings of energy become convulsive in the Russian mystic's music.

The pedal was judiciously applied to help make the most of Sahun Sam Hong's artistry in Chopin's Scherzo No 2 in B-flat minor. In the main material, the sound was a little dry, which worked well to bring out the piece's rhythmic clarity; as the work progressed, Hong thickened the sound, using the pedal more liberally. His account amounted to the afternoon's  best performance of mainstream repertoire.

My fascination with Michael Davidman, so pronounced in an earlier report, continued in his playing of short works by Albeniz, Rachmaninoff, and Saint-Saens. He seemed to have a distinct plan for every bit of decoration and scrap of melody in Rachmaninoff's "Lilacs" and the French composer's Etude in the Form of a Waltz. Throughout, the tone was ravishing: irresistibly, I recalled Virgil Thomson's description of the Philadelphia Orchestra's string tone 80 years ago when it was first developing its sound under Eugene Ormandy. Thomson's New York Herald Tribune review said "the suavity of it" seemed "a visual and tactile thing, like pale pinky-brown velvet." 

That strikes home as part of Davidman's brand. But the Saint-Saens is borderline salon music, though at the difficult end of the spectrum. Without knowing anything about the jury's deliberations, I was tempted  to wonder if questions about Davidman's limitations of artistic temperament rose in its collective mind. Significant parts of the repertoire may not be to this gifted pianist's liking: I have a hard time imagining a Davidman "Appassionata" Sonata or his Brahms "Handel Variations." 

But well-equipped, flexible young artists like any of these finalists have ways of defying predictability. And that's part of what the American Pianists Awards are devoted to revealing. May their success long continue, even past the estimable artistic directorship of Joel Harrison, who is about to retire.


Sunday, June 27, 2021

Playing well with others: American Pianists Awards puts finalists in collaboration

The chamber-music and concerto phases of the 2021 American Pianists Awards have necessarily been squeezed into one concert each, meaning that much of the repertoire was trimmed down to a movement or two per pianist. The second concert presented the finalists working with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Gerard Schwarz; on Friday each had been joined by the excellent Dover String Quartet at the Indiana History Center.

The competitive aspect of the quadrennial classical division (every other two years is devoted to jazz) of these well-heeled contests has thus been given a focus with pluses and minuses attached. A concert artist, especially in collaboration, develops a concept of a chosen piece that brings out his or her personality across the spectrum of a composer's unified creation. Nonetheless, a movement of significant length is also a unit of creative and interpretive achievement, and listeners (including the jury) don't have to divide their impressions over two or more concerts per genre, as was the APA's pre-pandemic custom.

So, except for two compact works in concerto style, the last two nights concentrated the attention in ways

Gerard Schwarz was concertos' guest conductor

that asked us to forget about movements that were not played. On Saturday at Hilbert Circle Theatre, we heard the first movements of three Beethoven concertos, plus two complete works that fit within the roughly 20-minute portion assigned to each participant: Cesar Franck's "Symphonic Variations" and Franz Liszt's Piano Concerto No. 1 in E-flat major.

Taking the complete pieces first, Kenny Broberg followed up on the unity and firm ensemble sense he had displayed in the first movement of Brahms' Piano Quintet in F minor with a scintillating account of the Franck, a work that mounts through richly lyrical treatments of its theme onto the kind of Second Empire thrust Franck was capable of in the concluding Allegro non troppo, supported incandescently by Schwarz and the ISO. 

Inevitably, the mind's ear went back to a Franck composition more explicitly indicative of the composer's career as an organist, the first movement of the Piano Quintet in F minor, which Michael Davidman played with the Dover. I had not heard Davidman's solo recital for the competition, so was enthralled by his playing for the first time Friday.

I don't know how much today's burgeoning pianists and singers listen to their recorded legacies, but Davidman certainly sounded familiar with the French tradition of piano-playing, exemplified by Alfred Cortot, Marguerite Long, and Robert Casadesus. Trying not to make too much of comparing present-day concerts with historic recordings, I am yielding to that temptation here: the anonymous liner-note annotator to my LP of the Thibaud-Casals-Cortot performance of Mendelssohn's Piano Trio in D minor concisely nails the French pianist's special qualities: "intense sensitivity and ample yet varied tone."

The delicate force of Davidman answering phrases to his string colleagues' "questions" as the Franck got under way was captivating. His accents, when called for, were impressive, ringing out without overemphasis. The facility in rapid passagework was unstinting and always under control, yet with the flair of spontaneity. I was looking forward to appreciating Davidman's own "intense sensitivity and ample yet varied tone" in the Liszt concerto, and I was not disappointed. 

Michael Davidman shares wide performance experience with his competition colleagues.
The "ample yet varied tone" noted in Cortot's playing to me means applying that amplitude where called for, yet having more than one way to play at any dynamic level. I heard that in Davidman's Liszt. Many phrases, including some of the most gossamer quality, I wish I could preserve in perfect memory, like those insects in amber you sometimes see. 

The evenness of touch sparkled, but special emphases were not ignored. There's a left-hand line as the second-movement melody unfolds that, in this performance, had an uncanny richness of tone, as if a master baritone were singing it. The excitement of the "Allegro Marziale animato" was introduced with masterly suspense, and the thrills of that finale seemed truly earned by the "intense sensitivity" the pianist had displayed previously. This was not adventitious excitement applied out of nowhere; it had been present, thanks to Davidman's acuity and interpretive elan, from the start. All told, and given the simpatico accompaniment and the orchestration's brilliant variety, this was one of the best concerto performances I've heard in recent years.

No, I'm not going to advocate for Davidman as rightful winner of the Christel DeHaan Classical Fellowship to be announced this afternoon. I'm a little wary of musical competitions, though this one is well-run and, as a music journalist, I've been appreciative of their publicity value: they attract audiences, they attract money. May the excellence of these five young pianists in this showcase usher in significant careers all around; they deserve to be heard.

Of the rest of Saturday's program, I'll admit to a long-standing regard for the Beethoven Fourth as my favorite. Dominic Cheli's performance of the G Major's first movement opened with a thorough gentleness that was matched by the orchestra's response. I was impressed by his shapely legato touch and his apparent acknowledgment that this work foreshadows the romantic century, especially in the solo concerto form. Cheli's cadenza seemed to encompass all sides of the music, with some detectable, idiomatic  enlargement of one of Beethoven's versions.

Beethoven's C minor concerto, the Third, is suffused with the earnestness of middle Beethoven. It might not have been to all tastes that Mackenzie Melemed, with his spidery touch and nimbleness of phrasing, brought out the lightness of the solo writing, loading most of seriousness onto the cadenza. I found this well-founded, mood-lifting approach a relief, partly because the Third is my next-to-least favorite of Beethoven's mighty five. 

Yes, the "Emperor" is the beast in the room. It received a respectful, appropriately insightful account of the solo role by Sahun Sam Hong. Still, this masterpiece rubs me the wrong way, partly because its greatness absorbs all interpreters and even beats down admiring listeners. Individuality of expression from the piano and the robustness characteristic of the orchestra accompaniment add up to an excruciatingly detailed landscape painting. 

Tolstoy, like Beethoven, painted on huge canvas.

Putting one's concerto all into this one mighty movement subsumes just about every interpretation. It's as if the philosophical and historical position of the E-flat concerto both props up the individual and sets him firmly into a huge context that's larger than any one pianist — or any one of us, frankly. That makes this work worthy of its nickname, but it's not an ideal contest piece, despite Hong's evident commitment to it. 

The "Emperor" could be regarded as the "War and Peace" of piano concertos. It doesn't matter whether you're Napoleon (central to the generation of both works) or Prince Vasily or a foot soldier. As Tolstoy implied, a  remote, all-powerful god is in charge. In this concerto, Beethoven is that controlling yet oddly remote deity. We are accustomed to looking up to him in such a position. So, in the best sense of reviving the concert scene, exposure to three of his concerto first movements in the contest's final round is not regrettable, despite my imperial reservations.




Friday, June 25, 2021

Dance Kaleidoscope members create works of thanks for what endures post-pandemic

The geometry of living too close: Sarah Taylor's "feast."

 In "Acts of Gratitude," seven members of Dance Kaleidoscope take turns introducing new dances created around their grateful feelings. It will remain online through June 30.

The challenges of the probably waning pandemic, including restraints on working together for over a year, have to be put in the context of rehearsing in the company's new home and readying programs for a return to in-person performances. Thus, joy and pain are inevitable companions in the process, as they have been for most people in our collective sojourn through maximum uncertainty.

The show illuminates a wide swath of personal responses, each set upon a chosen number of colleagues. Not surprisingly, the responses are heavy in terms of seriousness. The choreographers and their peer group have been particularly challenged, because young people's years of greatest energy and productivity have had a time-out imposed on them. This is not an encouraging time for blithe spirits.

The dances thus struggle with opposed notions of freedom and limitation, isolation and community, trying to achieve equilibrium. Naturally, some of the struggles predate the pandemic. As introductory comments make clear, the choreographers are often coming to terms with what has shaped how they are. In order for gratitude to be kept in focus, resources carried from the past must be examined, sometimes celebrated, along with prospects for future fulfillment. 

As fledgling choreographers, there is immersion in techniques they are familiar with through practice and observation, all put in service to emotional expression. Many of the gestures are lyrical and imploring: arcing arms, lots of bending and quasi-crawling, earnest maneuvers of attraction and repulsion, interwoven patterns as well as wary stances across the distances afforded by DK's home stage at Indiana Repertory Theatre.

 The look of each show is substantially enhanced through the glow and design acumen of Laura E. Glover's lighting. We see that in the way the circle five dancers form at the start of Natalie Clevenger's "sakebu" (a Japanese word meaning "call" or "shout," lower-cased by Clevenger's preference) expands into circular floor patterns that help anchor an increasing variety of movement.

After displaying a verbal eloquence that matched her choreography, Paige Robinson shows in "Beneath the Embers" how the free-floating tolerance of childhood relationships can give way to setting apart those whose identity is made to seem alien because of body-image issues. The isolated figure among the five in this piece eventually benefits from the coalescence of her early companions around her in a salute to her freedom. 

In a more explicit celebration of individualism, Kieran King's "Be Deviant" gives his three dancers personal  dialects in a common language of self-definition. The onstage collapse before the blackout has a fine ambivalence to it. On the other hand, Manuel Valdes' full-company "Reflections of the Wounded" passes through agonized stages (peaking in Kieran King's solo) to emerge in a cleansing ritual to music explicitly suggesting born-again baptism. It's a notable manifestation of joy, even as it retains the seriousness of all seven pieces. 

Evidence of wit would have been more welcome, as it occupies much of the aesthetic terrain of dance, and we got it in Sarah Taylor's "feast." That doesn't mean that levity bubbled up in this enthralling work, though. The poet W.H. Auden memorably reminds us that wit requires a combination of imagination, moral courage, and unhappiness. Humor may live close by, but wit is the watchful landlord of a large building in which humor is an unruly tenant. 

What I loved about "feast." was its witty take on family relationships, life among intimates at close quarters as the pandemic mandated. Starting and ending with five dancers seated around a table, making robotic angular movements of head and torso, this was a witty piece. How are these people coping? Not well. They may be passing food in an imitation of community, but they are self-focused; communication is nervously caged and looking for outlets. 

The piece quickly expands into giving twitchy, individual life to each of these automatons. One by one, they take solo turns on top of the table after the dining tableau breaks up and a wealth of faux-awkward interactions ensues. The tension is richly varied. I never felt there was any transitional padding, and I actually became interested in all five dancers as characters, even though this is not a story ballet. The music had the insistence and repetitive impact of minimalism. 

From its one-word lower-case title and definitive appended period on, "feast." is a bright showcase of serious wit. It has wit's genius of looking at the same situation in complementary, if contradictory, ways. At length, it is also grimly funny. So, yes, it too can be counted as an act of gratitude. The whole program, in addition to artistic director David Hochoy's confidence in his dancer-choreographers, deserves our gratitude in return.


[Photo by Freddie Kelvin]










Wednesday, June 23, 2021

APA Classical Fellowship Awards finalist Kenny Broberg puts indelible personal stamp on two Russian works

Once I found a home radio with truer fidelity, I was able to engage with APA finalist Kenny Broberg's full
artistry as the current competition's series of five solo recitals came to an end. It was my debut catching up to the series in Tuesday evening radio programming.

Kenny Broberg started with Beethoven, ended with Scriabin.
WFYI-FM's hourlong broadcasts of the five recitals can be a bit disconcerting, I found out, in the tiny separation they permit between selections. Artistic director and CEO Joel Harrison announces the program at the start; then listeners must be alert to separate each piece from its neighbor. The ear can do this before the mind does. When the commissioned work, Laura Kaminsky's "Alluvion," stepped aggressively on the

heels of a Gabriel Fauré barcarole, I was startled.

Otherwise, the difficulty was purely local for me: I couldn't get a sense of Broberg's qualities during the first piece, Beethoven's Sonata in A-flat, op. 110, because of veiled, anonymous radio sound that made it seem that a machine, not a person, was generating the performance. Pacing, including tempo adjustments, and dynamics (to a degree) could be apprehended, but the all-important matter of touch was almost impossible to discern. Thus, no comment here on Broberg's Beethoven.

I was stewing about fairly covering the recital via an inadequate radio during the Fauré piece, so won't comment on Broberg's performance of that, either. In the kitchen, I found a better radio through which to hear "Alluvion." Here's an interesting thing about competition pieces: Once you've heard them a couple of times, a third rendition can seem commendably clearer and better focused, as Broberg's did. But I have to wonder if my growing familiarity with the new piece may be responsible for such an impression.  

On to Nikolai Medtner's Sonata in A minor, op. 30. A Russian composer of German heritage, the latter affinity was overemphasized abroad, much to the pianist-composer's annoyance. His Russianness was a proud part of his identity, and was recognized as such in his homeland during his lifetime, which extended into the most fraught era of the Soviet dictatorship. Broberg brought forward the Russian feeling of the sonata's anxious, questioning melody. The melancholy behind the relentless energy of the mature Rachmaninoff is adumbrated here, and the recitalist projected a sure sense of it.

The one-movement sonata was succeeded by a more idiosyncratically modernist Russian piece, Scriabin's Sonata No. 5, also a one-movement work. Along with the more familiar Ninth Sonata ("Black Mass"), No. 5 became well-known chiefly through the advocacy of Vladimir Horowitz. I wish Broberg had displayed more insight into the frequent "sotto voce" passages in this work, which are so essential to the esoteric hints characteristic of Scriabin. 

The score is full of unusual directions, asking for "languid" or "caressing" expressiveness, for example. Broberg was up to some of them, none more crucial than the requirement to play "ecstatically" at the climax. What listener can be sure that such emotional projection has been achieved? It sounded pretty much within Broberg's abilities, with all elements of the texture in balance. Especially impressive was the headlong Presto rush in the last sixteen measures. It must seem to sweep everything before it and somehow summarize the restive spiritual searching of the whole piece. Broberg did that creditably.

The end of this week's contest offers expanded chances for in-person access to the finalists' chamber-music and concerto skills. The organization's website has full details. To be announced Sunday afternoon, the fellowship recipient is assured of the APA's wonted tender loving care, including several concrete forms of career boosting.